With the long-term hamstring injury to Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur need a striker. Badly. While the transfer rumors have mostly settled on what the media calls Spurs’ “desperation” to pick one up in the transfer window, a lot of Tottenham fans have been looking a lot closer to home.
Troy Parrott is a 17-year old Irish football prodigy, considered one of the brightest young players of his generation. He’s already drawing comparisons to Robbie Keane and is considered a future Ireland national team star. He made his Tottenham first team debut back in September in the EFL Cup loss to Colchester, and his Premier League debut in a short cameo against Burnley in December.
That has led some fans to wonder why he’s not being given more of a chance in the Premier League. Surely, with Harry Kane out and no other recognized strikers in the first team, it provides an opportunity to see what Parrott can do at the very top levels of the sport. Fans can also point at Japhet Tanganga, 20, who seemingly came out of nowhere this month and appears to be firmly in Mourinho’s first team plans going forward.
Mourinho addressed Troy Parrott directly in his press conference today, given ahead of tomorrow’s Premier League match against Norwich City, and the gist of the comments are pretty simple — he’s simply not ready, and Jose doesn’t want to throw him into the fire.
“I’m ready to answer you because I had a long conversation with him today, so I’m ready to share with you a little bit. I think he has potential. I think he needs to work a lot. He has a process to go through, a process that probably [Japhet] Tanganga had. One thing is 17 and another thing is 20. We are speaking about three years of distance and three years.
“Ok in Tanganga’s case it was three years without a Premier League match, but it was three years or working and playing, playing in his age groups, playing in England national team [youth games], which also gave him some experience. Then with me it was just the last part of his preparation before he had his first opportunity.
“I think Troy has to go through a process. Can he have minutes? Yes he can have minutes. I’m not saying he’s not able to have minutes, but to put on his shoulders the responsibility of replacing somebody to be replaced, I don’t think he’s ready at all.”
This is a pretty straightforward answer, and to be honest, it makes a lot of sense. Tanganga has proven that he’s ready for a role in the first team, but he’s also three years older and more developed than Parrott is at this time. Youth development is a touchy thing. Putting a talented youngster into a situation where he’s not prepared or ready to compete has the potential to set back his development, or create a situation where his confidence drops because he’s not able to play at the level required.
When speaking about Parrott earlier, Mourinho has hinted that he’s also not willing to send Troy out on loan quite yet, saying that a 17 year old kid really should be staying with his club, learning the system and developing. Mourinho is clearly trying to protect him, just as he clearly recognizes the immense talent at his disposal. I don’t think there’s any chance that Jose doesn’t think that Troy has what it takes to be a top striker, but he’s also not willing to take a chance with him and risk screwing up his development by putting him in a situation where he isn’t ready to succeed.
Tottenham may need a striker at the moment, but there are other options available than throwing a kid into the pressure cooker of the Premier League. It benefits Spurs much more to have a slow, gradual, thoughtful introduction to the rigors of league football.